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New Zealand village 'in hands of God' as fire threatens

New Zealand village 'in hands of God' as fire threatens

The Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni has commended the efforts of everyone involved in tackling New Zealand's largest bush fire in decades.

Fires started on Monday and Tuesday and quickly spread.

One home has been lost and roughly 3,000 people have been evacuated from the Wakefield and Pigeon Valley areas on the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand due to the fire.

Officials said Sunday was a "productive day with less wind than forecast", allowing them to conduct a controlled burn-off operation to protect some areas.

"While I'm immensely relieved there's been no loss of life and want to thank all of those involved in tackling this huge fire, it's clear there are going to be some hard times ahead until we get the fire fully under control and people back to their homes", she said.

"Our focus at the moment is moving more into the fire ground and concentrating on the moving heat and trying to widen the amount of containment all the way around the fire".

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Fire chiefs have warned that the flames could continue until March.

Authorities were working to try to return evacuated residents to their homes on Monday.

New Zealand Red Cross Communications Manager Ellie van Baaren said evacuees were exhausted and frustrated.

Farmers and contractors in parts of the region have been banned from using machinery that could generate to sparks or fire.

Over 100 personnel worked throughout the night to fight the fire that now covers 2100 hectares with a 27-kilometre perimeter, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) regional manager John Sutton told media on Saturday. The New Zealand Drought Index reports "extremely dry" conditions in the Nelson area, which has reportedly been parched since November 2018.